The youth of our community have stepped up in some big ways over the past few weeks, showing the ability to both lead and to take action on their own to help people in an extraordinary time.

We’ve brought you a few of those stories. People have gone out of their way to brighten neighbors’ days, leaving them messages in chalk and making sure that they know others are thinking about them. The reaction to those stories has been strong, and it’s heartwarming to see.

This week students at Ottumwa Christian School made sure that a planned blood drive could go ahead without creating undue risk for donors and staff. It was, in the best way, an act of defiance — refusal to simply give up in the face of a serious challenge.

None of these acts has been out of step with the very real need to keep the social distancing practices with which we’ve all become familiar. In each case, those involved found ways to accomplish their goals without endangering those they sought to help.

American society has a grand tradition of carping about the generations coming up behind those in power. It’s foolish, though, and gains little for our community or our nation.

It would be equally misguided to hold up these acts as proof that the future is assured, that the younger generations will be the leaders we need. There is a difference between small acts of kindness and the broader efforts leadership requires at higher levels.

That said, there are lessons that we hope people, young or old, carry with them from this time. An act of kindness is never wasted. Building up others also builds up oneself. When the goal is worth pursuing, there is often a way to get it accomplished.

It’s hard to be overly optimistic right now. There’s a long way to go before Iowa and the nation can think about reopening to anything along the lines things were two months ago. More likely is a staged process in which elements of life resume step by step, and right now we simply don’t know what that may look like.

Even when things begin to resume, we’re looking at serious economic damage at virtually every level. There will be a lot of work to do.

That’s not pessimistic. It’s reality.

But it is also important that we do not overlook the fact that not everything is as dark as what it may be tempting to think. There are bright spots. There are reasons for encouragement.

We’ve made a conscious effort over the past several weeks to make sure that not all of our coverage has been focused on the pandemic. Everyone needs a break from that drumbeat. That includes us.

To those who continue to read, thank you. We appreciate it. To those who don’t, please consider subscribing. While other outlets dabble in news for an hour or so per day, we’re the only local source entirely focused on telling you what’s happening in the community. We believe that’s worth something.

With luck, we’ll see the numbers shift over the next week or so in Iowa. Stay safe. Stay kind.

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